Most of us are at least familiar, at least by name, with shepherd's pie. How about a cottage pie?
In Ireland, a meat pie is the traditional Monday meal because leftover remnants of the Sunday roast are used. If lamb had been served for dinner, it was a shepherd's pie. If you had beef, it was a cottage pie. The vegetables mixed in with the meat were, of course, the leftover veggies from the prior meal, as were the mashed potatoes. And for dessert, how about a simple cheesecake that you don't even have to worry about baking? The heavy cream and liqueur pair deliciously with the chocolate.
A few tips for your cottage pie: If you'd like to add another depth of flavor add a little red wine to the sauce. If not, it's utterly delicious without the wine. When you're ready to top with the mashed potatoes, you can pipe the potatoes through a pastry bag, smooth them on with a spoon and make swirls as you would with meringue. Another alternative is to run the tip of a fork over the potatoes to make furrows and peaks so it will brown nicely. If desired, sprinkle a little shredded Irish cheddar cheese on top of the mashed potatoes.
From "Real Irish Food" by Dave Bowers
Serves: 4 to 6
1 1/2 pounds ground beef or lamb
1 onion, diced
1 large carrot, grated or finely chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup green peas (cooked, fresh, or frozen)
6 cups mashed potatoes
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Heat oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease a 3-quart casserole dish.
Brown the beef in a large skillet over medium heat, 8 to 10 minutes. Spoon off and discard fat. Push the meat to one side and cook the onion, carrot and thyme until the onions just turn translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Push the onions and carrots to one side and melt the butter. Whisk the flour into the butter and then add in the tomato paste. Stir everything in the pan together.
Add the stock and Worcestershire and cook until thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the peas.
Turn the meat mixture out into the prepared dish and spoon the potatoes on top. Bake until the filling is bubbling and the potatoes are nicely browned, about 20 minutes. Serve.
Irish Cream Cheesecake
From "The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook"
Serves: 6 to 8
Vegetable oil, for the pan
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup crushed chocolate chip cookies
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
8 ounces milk chocolate, broken into pieces
1 1/2 cups softened cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream, lightly whipped
3 tablespoons Irish Cream Liqueur
Line the bottom of an 8-inch round springform cake pan with parchment paper and brush the sides with oil.
Place the butter in a saucepan and heat gently until melted. Stir in the crushed cookies. Press into the bottom of the prepared cake pan and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
To make the filling, place the dark and milk chocolates into a heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water until melted. Let cool.
In a separate bowl, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth, then fold in the cream. Fold the melted chocolate into the cream cheese mixture, then stir in the liqueur.
Spoon the filling into the cake pan and smooth the surface. Refrigerate until the filling is firm, about 2 hours. Transfer to a serving plate and cut into slices. Serve with whipped cream, crème fraîche and berries, if desired.
Photo (hero): Florida Fish and Wildlife/Flickr (license)